I awoke this morning the way I awake most mornings: with a hard-on for cereal. Only to find a battalion of black ants laying siege to my golden tower of Honey Nut Cheerios, the tall box I’d opened just yesterday, from which I’d poured just one bowl (a serious bowl, yes, but a single one). I had no choice but to reach for the Hot Shot—the signature scent of my house is not potpourri, or summer breeze, or vanilla bean, or lavender, but Hot Shot Ant & Roach—and lay waste to the ants, poison white foam coating the box inside-and-out, the kitchen counter. I killed them on contact, if the Hot Shot can is to be trusted, and crammed the box into the trash in frustration. The stale toast I had for breakfast was small consolation.
Later this afternoon, a little before three, I drove away from the East Atlanta Branch Library feeling good and conflicted, my warring halves clashing over whether to stop somewhere for a drink. A quarter-mile from the library I saw a chalkboard sign out front of a Mexican restaurant I’d been meaning to try. It read: LOST MARGARITA LOOKING FOR NEW HOME. The tide in the battle turned in its inevitable way—sober synchronized soldiers annihilated by drunken heathens with machineguns—and I swerved my truck stupidly into the Tomatillos parking lot. The temperature hovered under ninety, cool for Atlanta in July, so I took my lime margarita—unfrozen, unsalted, and, to my delight, housed in a pint glass—outside, and sat at a wrought iron table under an umbrella.
Shortly thereafter, as I read a hyperviolent comic called The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, a small bee approached.
Get the fuck out of here, I said, standing and dancing. Go away!
The bee departed, only to return moments later in dramatic fashion—diving headfirst into my half-full margarita. The bee hadn’t thought this through; now it was swimming, in circles, for its life. It paddled in a panic, making little ripples in my drink, as I grumbled.
You deserve to die, bee, I said. You are just like the ants that ruined my cereal. You have invaded my personal space, tried to slurp my sustenance, and now you’re getting Eiffel Towered by Justice and his Hindu cousin with the strap-on, Karma. I’m going to watch you drown, bee, and I’m going to enjoy it.
Only I didn’t enjoy it. I was sick of killing, and watching this black-and-yellow daredevil paddle for its life only served to humanize it. This was not death-on-contact, felt nothing like spraying an ant or stomping a roach out of existence. What was this bee’s crime, exactly? Like me, he had seen a drink he couldn’t resist, and swerved stupidly in its direction.
I grabbed my glass, poured the bee out onto the gray slate ground, and watched him shake himself dry like a microscopic dog. He didn’t seem capable of liftoff, and I was afraid he might have acquired alcohol poisoning. I felt a vague closeness to the bee, the way one does after sharing a glass with another, or, I imagine, after watching a stranger nearly drown. I hoped he would make it.
A few minutes later it started to rain. Instinctively I looked in the bee’s direction: only a splash of margarita remained on the slate, now darkening with rain. The bee had sobered up sooner than I would, and flown off in search of a place to keep dry—or maybe another drink.
Evan Allgood's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Millions, LA Review of Books, The Toast, and The Billfold. He lives in Brooklyn and contributes regularly to Paste. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter @evoooooooooooo.